Great Kids Farm of Baltimore
As a life-long educator and former middle school teacher, the Great Kids Farm program of Baltimore City Public Schools has me jumping up and down with excitement -- ready to pack my bags and move. Here’s why.
City Schools’ Food Service Director, Tony Geraci, discovered in 2008 that City Schools owned a 33 acre farm that was barely being used. Concerned about rising obesity in kids and their lack of connection to the food they eat, Tony envisioned using that property as a farm and educational center where kids could connect deeply to the sources of their food. The Great Kids Farm was launched as the school system's farm-to-school food reform program.
Starting in November 2008, it took a lot of hard work to transform that overgrown reality into the Great Kids Farm Tony envisioned. Thousands of kids, working side-by-side with skilled volunteers, spent hundreds of hours pulling weeds, preparing planting beds, and building beehives. Money to make the work possible came from financial supporters, family and friends.
In less than a year, “three acres were under cultivation, bees were buzzing, chickens were laying eggs, fruit trees were taking root, greenhouses were overflowing with plants and thousands of worms were creating compost. Since then, these crops and animal populations have continued to grow, reaching more and more children, and inspiring more and more volunteers and donors to get involved.”
The Great Kids Farm program teaches children a great deal about farming; they cultivate organic fruits and vegetables year-round. It prepares students for agricultural, culinary, and environmental careers; they learn first-hand how food on the farm and food on the table are deeply connected. And they learn that good food is good business; they run a CSA ($500 for 24 weeks of produce), supply local restaurants, and sell at farmers’ markets.
Kudos to the City of Baltimore and their Great Kids Farm program!